Unmask, contain strange disease outbreak in Kaduna community, experts tell FG, NCDC

Chijioke Iremeka

Medical experts have called on the Federal Government and Nigerian Centre for Disease Control to unmask and contain the ‘strange’ respiratory disease that has affected about 10 children under 13 in Kaduna State on Thursday (yesterday).

The experts said having such an occurrence days after the FG confirmed the outbreak of anthrax in Niger State is a bad sign and called for proactive actions to stem the tide.

PUNCH Healthwise had reported that following the outbreak of an unknown ailment in Kafanchan, in Jama’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State, at least 10 children were hospitalised.

10 children hospitalised as strange ailment breaks out in Kaduna – Healthwise (punchng.com)

This development led to both primary and secondary schools being shut, pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation.

Chairman of the Local Government, Yunana Barde, who confirmed the outbreak at the Kafanchan General Hospital on Thursday, said the strange disease broke out on Wednesday night.

He urged residents not to panic as efforts were being made to contain the disease, even as he commended the General Hospital management for providing a temporal isolation centre for suspected cases of the strange ailment.

Speaking against this background, a Consultant Gynaecologist at Epe General Hospital, Epe, Lagos State, Dr. Cynthia Okafor, urged the federal and state governments, as a matter of urgency to investigate the unknown ailment with a view to having it appropriately handled to forestall further loss of lives.

She said, “Any illness that has to do with difficulty to breath for children should be treated as an emergency, else they will begin to die in their numbers. Respiratory illnesses kill faster than you can imagine, especially when children are involved.”

The consultant advised mothers and community members to be observant and vigilant to take any child with breathing difficulty to the hospital immediately for proper medical care.

“We need to do everything we can as a country and ensure that the disease is arrested in order not to get it under control,” she added.

Similarly, a public health expert at the Holy Family Hospital, Festac, Euphemia Okonkwo, called on the NCDC to monitor and profile disease outbreaks during this season and to take practical measures to nip them in the bud.

“NCDC should sensitise and educate Nigerians, especially the northerners, on the need for personal and environmental hygiene. This will reduce the rate of disease outbreaks in the country,” she added.

Dr. Okonkwo called on the government to send special health professionals to help manage the situation in the affected local government, noting that it is only through this way that the disease could be known and contained.

She said, “Without proper control, diseases can lead to widespread outbreaks and be harmful to public health. One option for preventing the spread of illness is to quarantine the sick.

“Once health practitioners identify cases of the disease, steps can be taken to prevent further infections. The measures depend on the pathogen in question, but a common method for reducing the likelihood of disease spread is through quarantine.”

This step, according to Okonkwo, involves separating an individual, who may have come into contact with the infectious agent from other people.

The World Health Organisation says environmental factors influence the spread of diseases, adding that water, sanitation, food and air quality are vital elements in the transmission of diseases and in the spread of diseases that can lead to epidemics.

“A lack of safe water, inadequate excreta disposal facilities, poor hygiene, poor living conditions and unsafe food can all cause diseases. Climate can affect disease transmission in a variety of ways. The distribution and population size of disease vectors can be heavily affected by the local climate.

“Flooding after heavy rains can result in sewage overflow and widespread water contamination. In addition, there is evidence to suggest that pathogens can be spread from one region to another along air streams or by wind,” WHO stated.


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